Ohio Appalachian Collaborative Blog

It takes teamwork to make the dream work

Learning to Love what we Fear

by | May 20, 2014
By Linda Knicely, Battelle for Kids

It’s a catchy phrase, right? Unfortunately, I can’t claim it as my own – it was the theme for the keynote presentation given by Michelle Pacansky-Brock at the third annual eMerge 2014: Innovative and Successful Approaches conference held in March at Cuyahoga Community College. eMerge “provides a unique opportunity for education professionals to discuss innovations and shared strategies for utilizing best practices and effective models in blended learning.” Over 100 participants from 36 educational institutions and organizations braved snowy Cleveland weather conditions to attend.

Michelle kicked off her presentation in the morning by trying out an app from a new tech start-up that was still in beta testing, but incorporated the best features of a variety of tools intended to enhance and increase the interactivity of large group presentations. Unfortunately, that morning, the app failed in spectacular fashion. However, there was a great lesson in that experience – when we’re willing to be leaders in innovation, there will be some failures, but there is also the opportunity for great reward. When we’re willing to take risks and move outside of our comfort zones, we can create educational experiences that will better prepare our students to be successful in the workplace environments they’ll be exposed to in the future. 

Web-based technology for audience response systems . . . flipped learning . . . digital news reporting . . . gamification . . . ”Show Me” . . . MOOCs . . . born accessible design . . . HyFlex . . . Digital Sabbaths . . . When I picked up my registration materials and took my seat, I felt in some ways like I had arrived in a country where I most definitely did NOT speak the language! Besides being bombarded by unfamiliar words and phrases, the culture was different from other education conferences. These participants walked the talk – the back channels (aka tweeting) were well trafficked, lively discussion took place during sessions via Today’s Meet, badges (in the guise of stickers) were generously distributed to encourage active participation.

While I don’t fear technology, I wouldn’t have claimed to love it before, either. I use my share of social media sites, but I’m impressed with (and a little intimidated by) the expert tech users in the OAC. But, something happened as the eMerge 2014 conference drew to a close.  Innovative tools, but, more importantly, innovative people infused me with enthusiasm and infected me with bravery— the willingness to learn, to apply, to risk, to sometimes fail, and, by doing all of these things, to succeed.

As professional development opportunities are planned for the 2014-15 school year, we want to hear from you – how can we at Battelle for Kids support your learning about and applying blended learning and emerging technologies to your personalized learning pathway? In the meantime, I hope that you’ll click here to read more about this year’s conference (including access to the presentations) and mark your calendar to attend next year! You can also connect and learn with the keynote speaker, Michelle Pacansky-Brock at www.teachingwithoutwalls.com or on Twitter @brocansky.